In today's digital landscape, most people understand that no system is perfect and data is never 100% safe. Incidents are bound to happen. How people learn about those incidents often influences their reactions.
Mishandled incident communication can have drastic consequences for your company. For starters, it can drag out the incident response and harm your bottom line. But regardless of how well your security team manages the incident itself, failing to share the right information with the right people at the right time can cause shareholders and customers alike to lose trust in your operations.
Read on to learn more about the importance of effective incident communication and all the advantages it has for your business.
Why Is Incident Communication Important?
Incident communication includes all the communication about an incident that takes place within and outside your business. This communication is important because it often means the difference between a smooth resolution and unnecessary escalation.
Handling internal communication well usually results in a quick and efficient incident response that minimizes the incident's duration and severity. Getting it wrong, on the other hand, can turn small mishaps into major incidents.
External communication is an equally crucial aspect of your team's incident response communication procedure. It involves letting external stakeholders, such as your clients, suppliers, and shareholders, know what happened, what you're doing to fix it, and how long they can expect it to take. Doing it right means giving each group the information they need to know when they need to know it.
If you wait too long to inform these stakeholders or leave out key details about the incident, they may hear about it through unofficial channels, harming your credibility and perceived transparency. If you fail to communicate about an outage or fix it promptly, current and potential customers may see you as unreliable.
Key Benefits of Efficient Incident Communication
If you're still not sold, here are 10 of the biggest benefits of making sure your company's incident communication is consistently effective.
- 1. Ensures the Key Stakeholders Are Promptly Informed of an Incident
- 2. Building Customer Trust and Loyalty
- 3. Streamlined Incident Resolution
- 4. Reduced Support Burden
- 5. Enhanced Team Collaboration
- 6. Reduced Legal Liability
- 7. Mitigating Business Impact
- 8. Complying With Regulations and Standards
- 9. Continuous Improvement
- 10. Safeguarding Brand Reputation
1. Ensures the Key Stakeholders Are Promptly Informed of an Incident
Nobody likes to be left in the dark. This is especially true for any of your company's key stakeholders who might be affected by an incident, including your employees, customers, shareholders, and suppliers. Operations teams with concrete communication plans to follow in the event of an incident are less likely to forget to loop someone in.
Of course, an essential part of timely incident communication is learning about incidents as soon as they happen. Keeping track of the current status of your website and online services is an easy way to minimize downtime and ensure the chain of incident response kicks off as soon as possible.
2. Building Customer Trust and Loyalty
A 2022 survey showed that 60% of the worldwide respondents valued trustworthiness and transparency over any other brand trait, up from 55% in 2021. Effective communication, particularly during incidents, goes a long way toward demonstrating these values and establishing a loyal client base.
Informing customers about the pertinent details of an incident, such as the type of incident and your team's response status, shows that you care about their experience. You can build additional trust in your dependability by sending out regular updates during lengthier incidents.
3. Streamlined Incident Resolution
When incident responders know exactly what information to share through which communication channels, incident response becomes a systematic process instead of a jumble of hesitation and miscommunications.
A solid incident communication plan can also limit false alarms and ensure that no one shares unnecessary information with the wrong people. This kind of oversharing can lead to boy-who-cried-wolf scenarios in which real threats down the line aren't taken seriously. By defining roles, responsibilities, and procedures for different types of incidents, you'll:
- Empower your incident response team to follow the established protocols
- Ensure that valuable, relevant information and regular status updates reach the right people
- Encourage the flow of information along the path of least resistance
This kind of streamlining all but guarantees that your organization is prepared for anything, thereby improving its overall resilience.
4. Reduced Support Burden
If your customers notice something is wrong before you do, the first thing many of them will do is reach out to your support team. Communicating about outages or service interruptions as soon as you're able will put your clients' minds at ease and limit the onslaught of support requests that are otherwise sure to follow.
Automated incident reporting lets you monitor the services your operations depend on so your team is the first to know when something's not right. Then, your response team can get a head start on external communication, leaving your support staff free to give each customer the time and care they deserve.
5. Enhanced Team Collaboration
Miscommunications can put undue stress on any team. And strained communication within and between internal teams can affect more than just incident response — it can put other business operations at risk and cause long-term damage to collaboration across the company. It only takes one bad event for teams and team members to lose faith in one another.
Giving employees the right tools and guidance to communicate effectively will turn incidents into team-building exercises, strengthening collaboration and improving trust across the company.
6. Reduced Legal Liability
Your organization can reduce its legal liability by communicating effectively about incidents. Following documented procedures and communicating through approved channels will leave a convenient paper trail, demonstrating that your team took appropriate steps to inform the affected parties about the incident and mitigate its impact.
It's also important to avoid sharing too much information about your operations with the wrong people. For instance, you wouldn't want to send the same technical details about an incident to both your development team and your customers. An effective communication plan will help you avoid exposing your company to additional security risks for which you could be held liable.
7. Mitigating Business Impact
Incidents can harm your business from several different angles. The potential impacts are even worse when communication is subpar. Communicating effectively throughout an incident can mitigate these impacts on your business by:
- Ensuring the incident is resolved as quickly as possible
- Keeping customers satisfied with your honesty and response efforts
- Minimizing the risk of legal noncompliance and providing documentation for future audits
- Strengthening your brand's public image
8. Complying With Regulations and Standards
Your company has legal obligations to respond effectively to incidents, especially security incidents that involve your clients' personal data. For example, any business that processes the data of EU citizens and residents must comply with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation. Moreover, every U.S. state has laws dictating how and when you need to notify people that their personal data was breached.
Aside from these legal responsibilities, most businesses also choose to undergo certain voluntary certifications to publicly demonstrate their compliance with established security and privacy standards. One such standard, SOC 2, specifically addresses your organization’s preparations for security incidents and how you communicate about security to external parties.
All of the regulations and standards that apply to your organization should be baked into your incident response plan from the start. This way, staying compliant is as simple as following procedure.
9. Continuous Improvement
Effective communication about incidents opens up opportunities for improving your team's operations in the long run. When most incident communication goes smoothly every time, it's easier to identify which steps in the communication process can be adjusted to boost efficiency: it's faster and simpler to find and fix a single knot than to sort through a frayed and knotted mess.
Additionally, because good communication leads to quicker incident resolution, your operations teams will have a greater capacity for regular incident practice runs. These dry runs will keep everyone, including new employees and those in new roles, on the same page and prepared for actual incidents.
10. Safeguarding Brand Reputation
As with many services, incident communication may not earn you many accolades. But it will save your brand from taking a hit in the public sphere. Inconsistent access to services or a lack of transparency, especially if it becomes a pattern, can easily cause word to spread that your company isn't reliable or trustworthy. Whether through public reviews or word of mouth, people love to warn others when they spot red flags.
You might not be able to avoid 100% of this negative feedback when an incident occurs. Still, optimizing both your internal and external communication will:
- Minimize the incident's impact on your customers
- Demonstrate transparency as one of your company's core values
- Assure your clients that you'll keep them informed about future events
Get a Feature-Packed Tool To Communicate Incidents
To achieve the best outcomes even in your company's most challenging situations, you need a comprehensive incident communication system. But building an optimal system from the ground up is no easy feat.
Instead of going it alone, take advantage of Statuspal's centralized status dashboard, complete with out-of-the-box incident reporting and a powerful, configurable notification system that sends real-time alerts to your customers and stakeholders. Sign up with Statuspal today for a 14-day free trial and worry less about your company's incident communication.